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4 Tips for Strong and Healthy Hips Over 55

As we age, keeping our hips strong and healthy is important for so many activities in our daily life – from sitting, standing, walking, bending, and getting up and down from the floor as well as for activities we enjoy like cycling, kayaking, golf, gardening, and more.

With my years of experience working in physical therapy as well as supporting women (and a few good men) over 55 in their health and fitness goals as a personal trainer, here are my 4 top tips to help you build strong and healthy hips. 

Consistent Strength Training

The stronger our muscles are, the more support they provide to our joints to decrease strain on our joints, tendons, ligaments, and bursae. Building muscle in our hips is important to not only give our joints support, but give our muscles the power to move with ease.

Strive for strength training exercises 3 times a week, focus on reps of 8-15 using a weight or an exercise that gives you a challenge by the last couple of reps each set, and always ensure you are not pushing yourself too hard. Start slow and build up steadily. 

Focus on closed chain exercises, where your feet are in a fixed position on the ground vs open chain exercises where you are lifting away from the ground. Some good examples of closed chain exercises are squats, step ups, bridges, hinges, and side stepping versus open chain exercises like straight leg raises, knee extension machine, and hamstring curls.

These exercises provide less force on the joints and more effectively work the muscles and build better stability. Bridges are one of the best closed chain exercises that are beginner safe and effective to help build the glute muscles for strong hips. Check out this video with a few variations on the bridge exercise:

Daily Mobility Exercises

Not only do our hips need strength and stability, but they also need mobility. The hip is one of the most mobile joints in the body and if it loses mobility, not only could you experience hip pain but also lower back and knee pain.

Spending too much time sitting can cause tightness and limited mobility, but you may also experience limited mobility from arthritis and the symptoms associated. Mobility exercises are great to keep range of motion, decrease pain, and keep your body moving the way you want it to!

Mobility exercises can be performed daily and are great to do first thing in the morning or after being in one position for too long as they can help to ease stiffness. Check out this video for some gentle mobility exercises:

Hip Friendly Positioning

Speaking of tightness and limited mobility, one of the biggest culprits is our daily positioning. Do you always stand leaning on one hip? Always cross your legs? Find yourself sitting with poor posture and a lack of support? Hold tension in your hips?

Be aware of your positioning and try to avoid being in one position for too long and especially if you are not supporting your body properly. Sit with your back supported, feet supported, and neutral hips. If you find you sit too much, try to take regular breaks to get up and walk, change to a standing position, or do a few stretches.

And when you are sleeping, if you sleep on your side, use a pillow between your knees to keep your hips in a neutral position. 

Healthy Nutrition

Eating a balanced diet with lots of veggies, dark leafy greens, lean proteins, healthy fats, and the right nutrients can help us to maintain a healthy weight to take pressure off of our joints as well as reduce inflammation in our body.

Too much sugar, refined carbohydrates, and unhealthy fats can cause inflammation in the body and the joints. A few of the best foods to eat are fish (such as salmon, tuna, and scallops, which can help to reduce inflammation), nuts and seeds (walnuts, almonds, and pumpkin seeds are full of inflammation fighting monounsaturated fats), and fruits and veggies are loaded with antioxidants. 

With regular exercises, mobility and strength training, good positioning, and healthy nutrition, you can reduce inflammation, and provide support and stability for your joints and muscles to have strong and healthy hips.

To learn more about healthy hips, register for my upcoming free virtual workshop on June 30th, attend live or access the recording, register here:

How do you feel about the health of your hips? Are they strong or weak? Do you do specific exercises to support your hips? Have you worked with a personal trainer to develop strength in your hips?

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The Author

Aubrey Reinmiller is a licensed Physical Therapist Assistant, Certified Personal Trainer and Senior Fitness Specialist, and Functional Aging Specialist focused on helping those over 50 to reinvent aging! She offers online small group and private fitness solutions through Aubrey authored Reinvent Aging: The Over 50 Fitness Guide to Improve Energy, Strength and Balance.

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